Title:
PP/GC/LE/107 Letter from Sir G.C.Lewis to Henry John Temple, third Viscount Palmerston, regarding new arrangements for the structure of the East India Company, possible changes in franchise qualifications, the state of the money market following the suspension of the Bank Charter Act and the relief of Lucknow after the Indian mutiny, 27 December 1857
Date:
27/12/1857
Content:
Letter from Sir George Cornewall Lewis, second Baronet, [Chancellor of the Exchequer], Harpton [Court], Radnor, [Radnorshire, Wales], to Henry John Temple, third Viscount Palmerston: after Palmerston's announcement to the chairs [of the East India Company], Lewis had a long interview with Sir James Melville, the secretary to the directors. Melville reported that the communication had not been received in an angry spirit, and that the directors felt more fear for the safety of India under a system deprived of the Company's management, than resentment against the government. "It is of course natural that they should take this view of their own rule. He said that they considered everything to turn on the independence of the council." Melville attached much importance to the question of appointment of such officers as himself, the permanent officers who would act under the president and the council. "His opinion was that if these were exclusively selected by the president, and if the council had no voice in their appointment, the president and permanent officers would manage everything, and the councillors would become nonentities. This is a point which we did not consider in the committee of cabinet, and although there is much truth in what he says, I see great difficulty in giving the council a share in these nominations. The importance which he attached to this point, coupled with his statement that the Board of Control never interfered with this portion of patronage, shewed me clearly how erroneous is the idea that the directors exercise no real power." While in the country, Lewis has spoken with "an intelligent attorney, who has had much experience of borough elections, both parliamentary and municipal. He has always acted for the Liberal party, but he volunteered to me a strong opinion that if we lowered the borough franchise we should introduce an exceedingly bad class of voters - more venal according to his view than dangerous - but devoid of all respectability and ready to vote either way for anybody who would make them drunk." Lewis considers that if the government has to chose between lowering the borough franchise and partial disfranchisement, the latter is the safer course, although it is likely to make more enemies and be more difficult to carry through Parliament. The state of the money market and the position of the Bank [of England] has improved more rapidly than expected. The two million pounds has been repaid; the extraordinary powers are at an end. The measures taken seem safe one. Lewis would not be suprised if there was a further reduction of the bank rate after the payment of the dividend. "The news of the relief of Lucknow has produced universal satisfaction. Even in a political point of view it is important, as acting upon opinion. It is clear that the contempt with which our countrymen in India regarded the natives was fully merited. Nothing but a coincidence of the most extraordinary mischance could have given this mutiny the dimensions which it has assumed." The money crisis has not much affected the farmers. Prices have been slightly lowered. The fall in prices of food has made the reduction of wages in the iron district less "inconvenient". 27 Dec [1857]
Extent:
Three papers
License:
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Subject:
James Cosmo Melvill [?], secretary of the East India Company
Indian mutiny, 1857-8
Lucknow, Oudh, India: site of British garrison and colony
Agriculture and crops
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